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Understanding the Stages of Change
by trishw on 
There are various stages that we go through when making a change and it is not necessarily a linear path. Research has shown that understanding where we are in the change process can be very helpful to our success. Iíll explain why in this newsletter.

So, you're ready to make a change ...

1. Pre-Contemplation

In the very beginning, this idea of change may have been just a glimmer. It would come and go, you didnít spend time thinking about it. It may even have been that someone close to you suggested that you make a change. They were concerned and thought it would be good for you.

You hadnít thought about it because you didnít see a problem. Or you did see a problem but werenít going down that road. It was too hard or didnít work when you tried in the past. Thatís the first stage of change, pre-contemplation.  

2. Contemplation

In the next stage, you spend time thinking about making a change. You look at the pros and cons. You go through all the versions of why you should or shouldnít.

Youíre clarifying your reasons, looking at the benefits. How would my life be different? Is it really possible? Itís the decision-making stage, contemplation. Youíre ready to get off the fence and commit, one way or another.

3. Preparation

If you have decided to go for it, the preparation stage is next. Here you gather what you need to move forward.

If you need to take a class, go through all the steps of getting to it. Find out where it is offered and the deadlines for registering for the class. Find the space in your schedule to get to the gym three times a week. Arrange for child care. In this stage, you are actively filling out the details of what is needed. You are creating the plan.  

4. Action!!

It's time to start creating change. Attending the first class, doing your homework, going to the gym, meeting with the trainer.  You are making adjustments to your schedule, your life, to include these new activities. You are continually changing your thoughts and responses to support your new goals.

5. Maintenance

As you feel more and more comfortable and confident with these changes, you are in maintenance.  Your new behaviors and ways of thinking are beginning to feel natural and easy. There is a sense of satisfaction and pleasure as you view your accomplishments. You have adapted to this new normal. Youíre really doing it!!

6. Relapse

Relapse is an unofficial but very real stage. Itís where we fall at times, get up, dust ourselves off and continue along. Sometimes itís a struggle to get back on track. This stage is very real and happens often. Itís important to gain perspective here, understand what happened, modify your plan and continue moving forward. A bump is not the end of the road, itís just new knowledge, more information. No judgment.

Examples of How This Works

1. If your desire to increase your activity level is a vague thought rather than a strong commitment, you might struggle toget to the gym three days a week.

If youíre doing it because your doctor said itís important, but you really donít agree, it may also be a struggle.

But, if you have been thinking about improving your health for some time, have read research, talked to your doctor, visited gyms, talked to trainers and are very excited and committedĖ your chances of success are much higher.

2. If you want to change your job, start applying for jobs, and interview before taking the time to explore what you really want, you may not find a better fit. The new job may be just as unsatisfying as the old.

3.  If you have been doing great for 6 months and then hit a wall, start missing classes, and are not spending time on the classwork, youíre having a relapse. If you understand that this is a part of the process, donít judge yourself.

Take the time to explore what is going on. Maybe even talk to someone. Taking these steps gives you a much better chance of moving forward again. If you just feel discouraged, angry, and beat yourself up, it may be more difficult to pick yourself up or even ask for help. You may just quit.

If youíre thinking about making a change in your life, identify what stage you are in. It will guide you to your next step.

As I mentioned in earlier newsletters, take time to explore your language, thoughts, and emotions before you jump into action. Make sure everything is going in the right direction. Make the necessary adjustments before you create your road map. Take the time to do all that is necessary to successfully move into the next step. It will pave the way to transformation and trust in yourself.

Keep moving forward, wherever you are!!

To your best life,
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